The parliamentary majority clearly believes that Danica Marinkovic’s testimony in the Hague has freed Slobodan Milosevic and police and army officials loyal to him from any accountability for Racak. This supposed achievement was asserted in favor of this former Pristina investigative judge’s candidacy for member of the board of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Vojislav Seselj was so angry with himself for not having thought of this first, that he renounced his candidate and supported this SNS favorite. This was enough for Danica Marinkovic’s success and Serbia’s failure.
It is argued that Danica Marinkovic’s testimony in Milosevic’s trial forced the judges to exclude Racak from all future Kosovo cases (Milutinovic et all, Djordjevic). This is not true. First of all, in the case of Milutinovic et all, it wasn’t the prosecutor who decided to exclude Racak, but the judges asked him to. Second, Racak is not the only crime being excluded from indictments after Milosevic’s trial; the same thing happened to the cases of murders in Dubrava prison and the village of Padaliste. The reason for this is not fear of Danica Marinkovic’s statement, but the necessity to make trials more expedient and efficient.
When the prosecutor asked for these crimes to be excluded from the indictment, the judges said that „the case can be adequately presented without these three events“, which either fall outside of the timeframe of the indictment (Racak) or don’t fit into the framework of crimes against Albanian civilians in Kosovo (for example, the crime in Dubrava where Albanian prisoners brought from prisons all over Serbia were murdered). This was the real reason, and not Danica Marinkovic’s alleged success. Another important thing to mention was that similar „cuts“ happened on a regular basis in the Hague tribunal.
It is also argued that Racak was the direct reason for NATO intervention against Yugoslavia. This is also not true. Racak was the last drop in a glass full of crimes committed by Serbian forces, an indicator that Milosevic’s police was going back to its old habits which had already killed about 1,400 Albanian civilians, as well as evidence that Serbian military forces were present in Kosovo, which was forbidden based on the October agreement.
But, let’s go back to the alleged stunning performance by Danica Marinkovic in front of the Hague tribunal. She testified about Racak even after Milosevic’s trial (when her testimony was not validated by the judges, given the fact that the acused had died before the verdict was passed). The case of Vlastimir Djordjevic paid more attention to this subject than the case of Milutinovic et all. And here’s the gist of the conclusion – Danica Marinkovic conducted the investigation after the events in Racak in 1995, but her statements significantly differ from the real situation on the ground.
She failed to see that some of the victims were shot in the head from close proximity, she didn’t see the body of an eighteen year old girl, or the body of a twelve year old boy, or the bodies wearing civilian clothes which are visible in one of the videos. She missed many other things, too.
Here’s paragraph 416 of the first degree verdict in the Djordjevic case: „According to the panel, on January 15th 1999 at least 45 Kosovo Albanians, including one woman and child, were killed. At least one of the victims had their head cut off. Most of the victims were older than 50. Most had shotgun wounds to the head, by all odds from close proximity. At the time of death, most of them were wearing civilian clothes”.
Danica Marinkovic’s conclusions contradict this. According to her, there’s no doubt that the victims were UCK soldiers killed in battle. What’s the reason for this discrepancy? According to the judges, it’s because, on January 18th 1999 in Racak, Danica Marinkovic was shown „a fabricated scene staged by the police” in order to „create a false impression of the events” (paragraph 415 of Djordjevic verdict). Who knows what would happen if the prosecutors (and judges) went all the way to question whether Marinkovic is really that naive or if she was a part of the conspiracy to cover up, instead of investigate, the events in Racak.
If we look at the previous work of Danica Marinkovic, it becomes clear that she was part of the team which bent the truth in investigations and made innocent people confess to what they didn’t do. These were many Kosovo Albanians who were arrested during the years prior to the Kosovo conflict and accused of terrorism and conspiracy. During the investigations, they were beaten and forced to confess to being part of groups which were planning terrorist actions against the state. They gave these statements at police stations under torture and then repeated them in front of the investigative judge – which was Danica Marinkovic at the time. Her signature is on those records.
These records came into the hands of the Hague tribunal and were supposed to be used as evidence on UCK actions in the Tribunal cases regarding crimes against Serbs, Roma and the so-called Albanian collaborators in Kosovo in 1998. Their evidentiary value was so small that, most of the time, they weren’t even taken as evidence, given that it was clear that these statements were extorted.
Thus, it’s more likely that Danica Marinkovic has helped exonerate Haradinai and other UCK commanders of guilt for crimes against the Serbs than that she freed Milosevic and his collaborators of responsibility for Racak.
In 2002, when Natasa Kandic publicly said that policemen Predrag Nikolic and Zoran Dzeletovic killed Kosovo politician Fehmi Agani during the NATO intervention, Danica Marinkovic jumped to deny this, saying that the killers are among the UCK members. She didn’t conduct an investigation on this, nor did she need it – she knew that Nikolic and Dzeletovic „were doing their jobs honorably“. It’s unclear whether she considered the murder of 5 members of Blakqori family on May 6th on the railroad from Lipljan to Kosovo Polje „honorable“. They were even charged for this crime by Pristina police, but the case got lost in the judiciary system.
Natasa Kandic was given the information about the Agani murder by Serbian policemen. They told her one more thing, which, if it’s true, best speaks to the new position of Danica Marinkovic. When an investigative team from Pristina (investigative judge Danica Marinkovic, deputy district public prosecutor Jovica Jovanovic and one criminal police officer) came to the crime scene in the village of Likosane on February 28th 1998, they found a pile of bodies in front of the Ahmeti house. Several Ahmeti brothers were still alive. The policemen said that investigative judge Danica Marinkovic then said: „I’m not taking these“. The wounded were then finished off and the crime scene investigation was never done.
The bodies of 14 murdered Albanians were then transported to Pristina hospital. It’s not surprising that the court order for autopsy never arrived and that the autopsy was not performed. After being identified, the bodies were given to the families.
So, Danica Marinkovic’s investigations did more to cover up than to reveal the truth. Maybe that’s why someone wants a person like this to investigate the cases of corruption in Serbia.
The author is a researcher with the Humanitarian Law Center.
Translated by Marijana Simic